Encroachment under the guise of religion will be taken up as PIL: Karnataka HC

The case of a temple on a public road, which BM reported on September 19, has taken an interesting turn. Thanks to the High Court, it will now be dealt as a PIL (public interest litigation). This, after the HC, on hearing a petition seeking mandamus considering it fit to be treated as a PIL citing public interest, decided to act in this regard.

This will have wider repercussions, as with this case, all such illegal structures under the guise of religious places – a common modus operandi used by land sharks to gobble up government lands – will come under the scanner. The High Court, which heard the petition by activist Jayakumar Hiremath on Friday, has asked the petitioner to file a memo to this extent after stating that prima facie, the petition seemed to have public interest.

“We have been directed by the honourable court to file a memo. The court stated that the petition won’t be disposed as it seemed to have public interest. The petition will now be moved before the honourable chief justice of Karnataka. Initially, it was a writ of mandamus. However, the honourable court’s decision now is welcoming and will bring to light the massive irregularity that has gone unnoticed and unabated so far,” Hiremath told media.

Hiremath had filed a writ in the High Court in September seeking direction to officials as they had reportedly failed to act over an illegal structure that had inconvenienced the general public, and students of a government school, by blocking a public road. Hiremath had sought the court’s intervention as officials had not acted despite a complaint.

The structure in question is at Hosahalli Gollarapalya, Doddabidirukallu. A road – which also reflects in the ADLR (assistant director of land records) map – is where a temple construction stands in a 20X40 ft area, blocking the road that connected Magadi road and Kodigehalli road. In his petition seeking mandamus, Hiremath had
made the chief secretary, BBMP commissioner, Ramanagar SP and Doddabidurukallu and Herohalli councillors as respondent parties, seeking the court to direct them to act – to check the temple construction and restore the road.

Finally, the court that heard the case, has decided to act since public interest. Once a memo is filed to this extent, proceedings will be carried as per PIL norms, added sources.

ALL ILLEGAL STRUCTURES TO COME UDNER THE SCANNER
With the court pointing to the public interest and treating the case as a PIL, all such structures in the city, and officials responsible for them, will come under scanner, a source added.

“Not just residential buildings, slums and temples also encroach upon public properties. The city has hundreds of such encroachments that have come up without any plan approval or sanctions. With this particular case coming under scanner, many others will be taken up and may be regulated,” a senior BBMP official said.

As per the Koliwad Committee’s report on lakes in and around city, 9 acre, 26.5 guntas of expensive land, has been encroached by religious places. In Bengaluru rural, 6 acres, 37 guntas have been encroached in the name of religious places. Bengaluru urban includes Bengaluru north, KR Puram, Anekal, Bengaluru south, and Yelahanka while Bengaluru rural includes Nelamangala, Devanahalli, Doddaballapur, and Hosakote.

The encroachment area is likely to be more when it comes to government lands, the official added. Once the High Court takes up the case, irregularities in the name of religious places will come under scanner, he added.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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